On Maui, we say, "Mele Kalikimaka," when wishing others a Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. Chefs also like to beat to an island drum by adding popular ethnic tastes and presentations to the traditional holiday feast of foods.
Here are some holiday picks from South Maui to Central Maui.
Mala Wailea’s Lisa Neumann (from left), Suzy Kussner and Julie Farr give the shaka by the Christmas tree in the lobby of Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa fronting the restaurant.
MOKI CHONG KEE photo
As usual, chefs at the Grand Wailea will pull out all of the stops at their festive buffet feast from 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Savor Kona crab and roasted-corn chowder flavored with vanilla bean and cognac, warm baked brie cheese with baguette, freshly rolled sushi, Hawaiian Waldorf salad, seasonal fruits, grilled asparagus, seafood terrine and other salad items.
Keiki will find their own knee-high buffet with grilled-cheese sandwiches, breaded chicken strips, brownies and a decorating station for cookies.
Chefs will hand carve slow-roasted and organic turkey, prime rib rubbed in Hawaiian salt and kukui nut, and smoked pork belly with Maui-onion jus. Colorado lamb rack, freshly seared kampachi, and stuffed breast of chicken add to the bounty.
So do desserts such as chocolate-pecan tart, chestnut cheesecake, Grand Marnier creme brulee, cranberry eggnog trifle and spiced-apple bread pudding with warm rum and raisin sauce.
Cost is $74 adults and $37 children ages 5 to 12 with a portion of proceeds being donated to charity. Call 875-1234.
Located lobby level of the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Mala Wailea will dish up ocean views and an all-you-can-eat Christmas Day Buffet. Early-bird seating is 3 and 3:30 p.m. for $49 adults, and $26 children 12 and younger. Regular seating is from 5 to 9 p.m. at a cost of $59 adults and $29 for children.
Chef-partner Mark Ellman and his chef's team will wow you with Kapalua organic arugula with shaved Kula fennel and Ka'u orange vinaigrette,house-smoked salmon, island sashimi, assorted pates and cheeses, and Maui-onion soup.
From the carving station will come roast Christmas turkey with gravy and Cape Cod cranberry sauce, prime rib of beef with au jus and horseradish, and passion fruit-glazed Virginia ham.
Other hot entrees are herb-crusted lamb rack with pineapple salsa, pan-seared mahi with kaffir-lime butter sauce, and mini crab cakes with lemon cream. The dessert station will be jumping. Call 875-9307.
The Seascape Ma'alaea Restaurant is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., including Christmas.
This open-air lunch spot offers expansive views of the bay and a peek underwater at black-tip reef sharks and tropical fish through the Edge of the Reef window that's under the wing of its umbrella property, Maui Ocean Center.
Entry to Seascape is free, and Christmas specials will include coconut shrimp, local-boy club sandwich with layers of lobster and shrimp, and mango-hoisin ribs with jasmine rice. Call 270-7068.
Those who wish to pay to get into Maui Ocean Center's aquarium exhibits will find a Maui Fish-mas through Saturday with 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. dives by Scuba Claus and his elf along with naturalist presentations, local art vendors, children's activities and holiday giveaways. Call 270-7000.
A landmark restaurant at Maalaea Harbor for decades, Buzz's Wharf will be open all day Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a special Christmas Day menu on its front burner.
It will be a special prix-fixe feast complete with salad, entree and dessert for $34.95 adults. Of course, views of the boat action are included.
The entree choices are Hamakua beef Wellington with garlic mashed potatoes and stir-fried vegetables; or crab-stuffed fresh snapper in lilikoi Hollandaise sauce, steamed white rice and vegetables.
Dessert choices are mango upside-down cake or mango creme brulee. Reservations are strongly recommended. For more details, call 244-5426.
Moose McGillycuddy's Pub & Cafe locations in Kihei and Lahaina will feature a day of feasting and fun starting at 9 a.m. with breakfast specials and 4 p.m. with several dinner specials.
Super affordable and open-air with ocean views, Moose's will present prime rib with mashed potatoes; and roasted turkey with sausage and mac-nut stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy for a cost of $16.95 each. Moose's will also offer a prime rib and Brazilian lobster combo for $24.95 per plate. For reservations, call Moose's Kihei at 891-8600; or Lahaina at 667-7758.
Craving exotic cuisine for the holidays? East Ocean Chinese Restaurant in Kihei will present its Christmas Day dinner buffet from 5 to 9 p.m.
Walk up to the cold bar to get five-spice beef, chicken salad, garlic five treasure, cocktail shrimp, fresh fruits and red-bean tapioca.
Hot entrees will be plentiful and include soy-buttered shrimp, black-bean mussels, roast duck, sauteed fish with broccoli, green beans with sun-dried pork, General Tao's chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, peppered beef, vegetable lo mein, char-siu fried rice, sesame balls, crab rangoon and a tureen of cream seafood-corn soup. Cost is $19.95 adults. Call 879-1988.
Santa will arrive via canoe at 10 a.m. Friday on Malauka Beach, fronting Makena Beach & Golf Resort. In addition, the resort will present a Christmas Day dinner buffet in its Molokini Bar & Grille with seatings at 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
New Executive Chef Marc McDowell will dazzle you with king crab legs, ahi poke, and tiger prawns on ice. He'll also serve an assortment of dim sum, rolled sushi, sashimi,and cold smoked salmon. Molokini Bar & Grille will also present clam-and-corn chowder, rainbow of tropical fruits, grilled marinated vegetables and a host of fresh salads and Asian items.
Hot highlights are roasted whole tom turkey with giblet gravy, roast baron of beef in caramelized onion demi, broiled flank steak in orange-mango glaze and grilled catch of the day in lemon butter.
For dessert, pastry chefs will bake creme brulee, key lime pie, apple crumble, macadamia nut tartlets and more. Cost is $52 adults, and $26 children 6 to 12 years old. For further details, call 875-5888.
Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei will be open for breakfast on Christmas Day from 7:30 a.m. to noon; and for dinner with a special menu from 2 to 9 p.m.
A la carte starters include Waldorf and Caesar salads, crisp crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, and fresh hummus made in house with toasted pita.
Entrees include prime rib, surf and turf, traditional turkey with trimmings, and crab-stuffed mahimahi. Entree prices range from $24 to $36. Vegetarians will find stir-fries and there will be a special keiki menu as well. For more details, call 874-3779.
Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului is touting its Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner buffets as "feasts fit for kings." They will be served in the Elleair Ballroom from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Both buffets include tossed salad, macaroni-potato salad, crab salad, tropical fruits, ahi poke, shrimp cocktail and an assortment of sushi. Chefs will hand carve glazed Christmas ham, roast turkey with savory brown gravy and prime rib roast with horseradish.
Other hot entrees include shrimp and vegetable tempura, baked opakapaka, mussels in black-bean sauce, seafood stir- fry and New England clam chowder. Top it all off with an assortment of pies and cakes. Cost is $36 adults, and $15 children 6 to 12. Call 877-0051.
For an affordable holiday buffet, don't forget to book your Christmas dinner at Cary & Eddie's Hideaway in Kahului with seatings from 4 p.m. to closing.
In addition to its regular Hawaiian and American-style items, you'll find pineapple-glazed ham, roast top sirloin, garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, barbecue pork ribs, baked mahimahi and broiled salmon for $21.95 adults, and $10.99 children under 10 years of age. For reservations, call 873-6555.
Coconut Grill at the Maui Seaside Hotel in Kahului will dish up two different dining options Christmas Day. Choose the brunch buffet with seatings at 8 and 10:30 a.m. at a cost of $29.95 adults, and $13.95 children 5 to 12; or the dinner buffet with leisurely three-hour seatings at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Cost is $31.95 adults and $14.95 children 5 to 12. Both include slow-roasted prime rib of beef, grilled mahimahi, stuffed chicken Mauna Loa, smoked pit ham, poke, oysters, shrimp cocktail and Coconut Grill salad bar as well as a host of holiday desserts.
The brunch buffet will also feature breakfast items of eggs Benedict, buttermilk pancakes, Belgian waffles and home fries; while dinner includes pork ribs, tiger shrimp and clams scampi. Call 871-8881.
Dragon Dragon at the Maui Mall in Kahului will breathe fire into Christmas with its authentic Chinese cuisine for both lunch and dinner.
Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and from 5 to 9:30 p.m. for dine-in or take-out. Popular chef's specials range from fried pepper lamb back ribs to drunken clams to spicy shrimp Singapore-style. Can't decide what to order? Let them tell you about the special dinners for two, four or six people along with the four various dinners for 10 people. Call 893-1628.
On the Hana Highway in Kahului, Maui Coffee Roasters will be brewing interest with its holiday coffee and gift items, such as the Naughty & Nice blend. Take a coffee break and shop the fun way through Friday until 3 p.m. For further details, call 877-CUPS.
In addition, Las Pinatas Mexican Food on Dairy Road in Kahului is wishing everyone a Feliz Kalikimaka with its fun pinatas hanging on the ceiling. These make cute gifts for the keiki to bust open. It's open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday, Christmas Eve. Call 877-8707.
Bring the whole ohana or family to the Christmas Day feast at Ka'anapali Beach Hotel's Tiki Terrace restaurant and you'll get surprise visits from Santa.
Choose from the extravagant lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at a cost of $42.95 adults and $22 children 6 to 12, or the all-you-can-eat dinner feast from 3 to 7 p.m. for $46.95 adults and $22 keiki 6 to 12.
Reservations are a must for these extravagant Christmas buffets. That's because locals know that more than 60 tempting items will be prepared by Executive Chef Tom Muromoto and his staff for each service.
Highlighting Tiki Terrace's buffet lineup are macadamia nut-crusted roasted leg of lamb, rotisserie-roasted goose with poha-berry chutney, kiawe-smoked pepper-crusted prime rib, and roasted turkey served with shiitake-mushroom and corn stuffing.
The cold seafood buffet is always a winner, and it features all-you-can-eat crab legs, oysters on the half shell, island poke and sauces. Lead the kids to the special keiki station complete with hourly visits from Santa himself. Desserts will be plentiful. Hawaiian entertainment will add to the merriment during dinner. Call 667-0124.
Pineapple Grill in Kapalua will start serving dinner early on Christmas Day, beginning at 4 p.m. Executive Chef Ryan Luckey will present some festive dishes in addition to the regular menu.
They include seafood risotto with lobster, scallops, rock shrimp and sherry saffron sauce, served either as an entree or an appetizer; baby spinach or endive salad with cranberry vinaigrette, pan-roasted Hawaiian snaper with lobster and parmesan smashed potatoes; and braised Volcano lamb shank in red wine reduction. For reservations at Pineapple Grill, call 669-9600.
Diamond Resorts International, also known as Kaanapali Beach Club (that pink pyramid of a hotel at the far north end of the resort), will feature an all-you-can-eat Christmas Day buffet from 4 to 8 p.m.
Begin your feasting with Hawaiian seafood chowder, Kula greens, lomilomi salmon, peel-and-eat shrimp, fresh fruits and potato macaroni salad.
Then head to the hot bar, where the beach club's chefs will carve slow-roasted prime rib of beef with herb au jus and horseradish; and honey-glazed ham. Other hot entrees will include seared snapper with passion-fruit beurre blanc; and roasted chicken in brandy glaze. Bakery items and desserts will include taro rolls, chocolate cake, macadamia-nut pie and more. Cost is $39 adults and $21 for children 6 to 12. Call 661-2000.
The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa will celebrate Christmas Day with three different dining options, including an a la carte menu at its brand new Japengo restaurant from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. You may also opt for the Hyatt's Drums of the Pacific Christmas luau at 5 p.m. with all manner of Hawaiian and traditional fare.
But most people will go to the Hyatt for its Hawaiian-style Christmas buffet in the open-air Umalu restaurant. Savor roasted Diestel Farms turkey, house-made gravy, whipped potatoes, Okinawan potatoes with coconut glaze, chestnut and Portuguese sausage stuffing, chef's garden vegetables and roasted pumpkin soup.
The best part about it is, you may dress casually in rubber slippers and board shorts or beach wraps as this is a poolside restaurant with ocean views.
Other hot highlights include roasted pork loin, pan-seared mahimahi and New York strip steak. Seafood lovers will find a lavish display with oysters and prawns and there will cheeses and desserts. Cost is $65 adults and $32.50 for children 5 to 12. For reservations at this popular Kaanapali feast, call 667-4902.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali will present a Christmas Day at the Beach from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at its Black Rock Steak & Seafood. Food stations will cover the globe from European fare to Asia, the Pacific Rim and North America. You'll also find island cuisine from mauka, "the mountains," to makai, "the sea."
Specialties will include a pasta bar with assorted sauces from saffron cream to fresh basil and pine-nut pesto; pork Osso Buco, dim sum, crisp Peking duck, island snapper stuffed with crab and artichokes, oysters Rockefeller, roast leg of lamb, baked mahimahi Wellington and international dessert selections.
Cost is $73 adults, $31.50 children 12 to 16, and $18.75 for kids ages 5 to 11. Call 661-0031.
Last, but certainly not least, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua will feature an Effervescent Christmas Day Buffet Feast in its Terrace restaurant with a Dom Perignon toast from 3 to 8 p.m. Also enjoy an array of gourmet delicacies, highlighted by Hawaiian entertainment and hula. Cost is $120 adults and $43.50 children 6 to 12.
In addition, the Ritz's Banyan Tree restaurant will tempt discerning diners with a four-course holiday menu, paired with a jazz duo in its oceanfront award-winning venue. Cost is $100 per person. Call 669-6200.